A 27-year-old mother of two, Ashley Ibrahim was terrified on her first day of college.

“At first I thought, ‘I’m going to be with all of these 18-year-olds, and I’m so much older,’” she said. “But everyone was so incredibly welcoming and reassuring.”

Now 30, Ibrahim graduated on Dec. 10 with a bachelor’s degree in international business from UNCG’s Bryan School of Business and Economics.

With her two young children serving as motivation, Ibrahim thrived during her time at UNCG, racking up an impressive list of accolades. She was a member of the Lloyd International Honors College and the Golden Key International Honour Society, and she also served as a university marshal.

“I really want to be a role model for my kids,” she said. “They came to campus with me when I had to buy books or meet with professors, and now my oldest is looking forward to going to college. It’s been good for them.”

In 2014, Ibrahim was given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Belgium over spring break to visit the prestigious Louvain School of Management. The trip is part of a unique joint course in which UNCG students study global entrepreneurship, live and learn with Belgian students for a week and then host them for a week in Greensboro.

Leading up to the trip, Ibrahim and her classmates worked virtually with the Belgian students, pitching ideas and developing business plans.

“It’s amazing that UNCG has the capability to enable students to work together collaboratively across borders,” Ibrahim said.

Working with international students has been the cornerstone of Ibrahim’s UNCG experience. She also participated in the X-Culture Project, a large-scale international experiential learning project designed by UNCG’s Dr. Vasyl Taras. X-Culture, which involves more than 3,500 MBA and business students from 100 universities across the globe each semester, places students on global teams in which they complete a consulting project for a multinational company over the course of several months.

Once a year, the top students from around the world are invited to attend the X-Culture Symposium for an additional round of competition. This year, Ibrahim was one of just 50 students to be invited to attend the event in Savannah, Georgia.

The students were divided into 10 teams and presented with a business problem in advance of the symposium, and teams were given one month to develop a business plan to be presented and evaluated at the event. Ibrahim’s team was a top-three finalist.

Ibrahim isn’t the only adult student to have had tremendous success at UNCG. The institution has a long history of supporting adult students – 10 of the 11 students in the very first graduating class in 1893 already had degrees from other academic institutions.

In 1972, the first Office of Adult Students was formed to recruit, admit and assist non-traditional students at UNCG, and in the mid-1990s, more than 25 percent of all undergraduates were adult students.

“It’s a great place for adult students. I would recommend it to everyone – there’s nothing to be afraid of here as a non-traditional student,” Ibrahim said, emphasizing that her children, husband and parents have been an incredible support system.

After graduation, Ibrahim plans to enter the workforce and start applying what she’s learned. She’s also interested in attending graduate school in the future.

“UNCG has shaped me tremendously,” she said. “My time here has given me an entire skillset that I did not have before.”


Follow the conversation about December Commencement on social media by searching #uncggrad on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Relations
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Relations